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Unexpected injuries can occur as Montana temperatures continue to drop

Posted at 11:53 AM, Dec 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-21 13:53:51-05

HELENA - As temperatures continue to drop, unexpected injuries can occur such as frostbite, slipping and falling on ice, as well as potential heart attacks.

St. Peters Health wants to caution people and remind them to take steps to prevent a medical emergency.

Exposure to hazards from the frigid cold and below-zero temperatures can be extremely dangerous if you are not prepared and St. Peters' Health Injury Prevention Specialist, Amy Geiger, is here to help.

"We've seen increases in falls and slips from ice since October. So we've already seen an uptick in that, especially recently with this cold freeze that's coming through. And then we're starting to get frostbite cases in for being out in the inclement weather," said Geiger.

Lengthy exposure to freezing temperatures can lead to hypothermia, frostbite, trench foot, cold-induced hives, and more wind can amplify the effect of the cold as well.

"Frostbite, you know, getting out in the weather, hypothermia, if you're out too long, can be a really big problem. Dehydration, that seems kind of weird in the winter, but you can get dehydrated fairly easily. Those are some big ones that we have to deal with," said Geiger.

Exposure isn't the only concern. Shoveling snow is considered strenuous, and it can put a strain on your muscles, joints, and even your heart.

"The more prepared you can be, that's one of the first things they talk about when you move here is keep something in your car. Keep layers in your car, keep some blankets, keep some water, keep some snacks in case you get into a situation where you can't drive or you get into an accident," said Geiger

When it is very cold, or when the wind chill is significant, cover as much exposed skin as possible with items like gloves, a winter hat, a scarf, and mittens and or gloves.